2 June 2020 - Hello Brothers and Sisters en La Lucha! Much has happened since my last letter.
On April 30th my CPAP was returned, but only after I agreed to be moved to a single cell. This being said, the fight isn’t over. Of all the CPAP/BiPaps confiscated mine is only the 2nd one returned to date. As a result, my family received a phone call from Mary Donovan, there have been many lawsuits filed on CDCR because of the Gestapo-like tactics with which they confiscated our DME’s (Durable Medical Equipment), which is lawful.
On 22 May 2020, I was finally called for an interview on my Health Care 602 I filed on April 10th when they confiscated our CPAP’s/BiPaps and still to date have not had it returned to me at the first level? They seem to be purposefully delaying it to fit their agenda. So, we continue to fight, til everyone gets their CPAPs/BiPaps and nebulizers returned.
In addition, i have initiated a MIM Grievance Campaign on CDCR due to the CPAP’s confiscation (H.C. 602 tracking #CMF HC 20000538). Thank you for all the support!
On another note, I want to extend our support to everyone out there, we stand with everyone in solidarity with those protesting police brutality. La Lucha Sigue! Inside-Outside-One Side!
MIM(Prisons) adds: In addition to the organizing this comrade describes above, on 11 May 2020, comrades in Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support participated in a phone zap campaign to demand that California Medical Facility return these medical devices.
The Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) is Lorie Davis, and she ordered TDCJ for all units to follow a list of sanitation [protocols]. You can email [email protected] to get this list that’s been ordered, and the phone number to call to report failure to follow these policies is below.
I wrote Lorie Davis and reported TDCJ Telford Unit not following policies implemented by Director Davis, and they still haven’t been implemented. Assistant Warden Mr. Marshall called me out and threatened me, told me to stop writing, and to set down.
My Texas Pack which I hustled hard to get has now come up missing. I think my legal mail is thrown away. If you can please send me a Texas Pack, I can send a donation when I get out, for all the hard work you do and help any way I can.
I need you to call Lori Davis, and please leave my name out of it. I fear what could happen. Right now I’m on the worst effected unit with COVID-19. There’s been 4 inmate deaths, 80 sick and 31 officers have gotten it. And the administration refuses to give any disinfectant to segregation inmates.
By Lorie Davis, we are supposed to be getting Double D [disinfectant]. We’ve not gotten it once. Bleach is not being used or anything else in administrative segregation.
**1-844-476-1289 is the number to report this
Also contact the TDCJ’s Director of Administrative Risk and Review Management Marvin Dunbar at (936) 437-4839 **
The Johnnies (sack) meals we get have little to no food on them. Special medical-prescribed meals, meat frees, are not sent out but every once in a while. Also we are not getting beverages of any kind.
We need you to report these things on Telford. Thank you for your time.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is one of many reports we’ve been getting regarding prison staff not following basic sanitation guidelines in prisons across the country. We just heard from a comrade who got eir parole delayed on a bogus rules violation write up in California for signing eir name on a group grievance that staff were not wearing masks. Not only are staff putting prisoners lives at risk by not following these procedures, but they are punishing people for bringing it to their attention!
This is in response/follow-up to the “PA Mail Disrupted” article on pg. 13 of ULK 66. Enclosed is some info printed off of the internet that you may or may not be aware of. It substantiates what both the comrade that wrote the article and also what MIM(Prisons) responded.
You are probably aware by now, but the “policy” of staff photocopying our privileged correspondence (legal mail) has since been lifted and we now receive the original documents once again. This is ONLY for privileged correspondence from courts and licensed attorneys with approved “ACNs” (Attorney Control Numbers). This changed over a year ago and I’ve provided a copy of the policy update with this letter.
This is a huge victory and to the best of my knowledge, aside from the individual (or groups of) prisoners who I’m sure filed grievances/lawsuits,, etc. to bring about this change, I believe the ACLU played a major role in this win.
But of course it’s one battle in a much larger war. Our “regular” mail is still being scanned by Smart Communications in Florida as well as our photos from family and friends.
All books/publications still must go through the “Security Processing Center” to be heavily scrutinized and censored, which leads to it taking a MINIMUM of about three weeks for us to receive our books. Sometimes it takes upwards of two months.
An alternative to the poor quality printed (copied) photos (I’ve persynally received numerous photos that the jail has printed on the opposite side of the SAME page as my letters, which I hope I’m not the only one that sees this as ridiculous, lazy, and flat out disrespectful) is to receive “photo books” via apps such as FreePrints, FlikShop, Shutterfly, and Snapfish.
These photo books are more expensive (around $10-$15) but are MUCH better quality than receiving the printed copies through Smart Communications. But the photo books must come (from the app) through the Security Processing Center.
Clearly the DOC isn’t happy that we’ve found a “loophole” in eir ridiculous policy regarding photos and I’ve witnessed a fellow prisoner’s ENTIRE photo book be rejected because ONE out of 25 of the photos depicted eir young daughter throwing up the “peace” sign. It goes without saying that ey claimed it was a “gang” sign. How ignorant and disrespectful can ey be? Obviously this question is rhetorical because clearly ey will stop at nothing and have no boundaries when it comes to censoring and harassing prisoners here in PA and around the country.
Bottom line, this is proof that we can achieve victories, albeit small ones, but victories nonetheless when standing up for our rights against the systematic oppression at the hands of our captors (the State).
So I hope it will encourage all of us to keep fighting and keep standing up for the what we believe in and what we know is right.
Just recently, the national grievance petition that I drafted got published in several newspapers. Then our cell block got raided multiple times, and cellphones were confiscated. Well the C.O.’s put the searches off on my organizing and blaming me for the raids. As a result, a XXXX gang member stabbed me 5 times in the back with an ice pick. I am recovering fine but it just goes to show how far these fascists will go to shut me up.
Next, I would like to update you on these petitions. So on 8 May 2020 citizens in Raleigh, N.C. did a vehicle protest blaring horns, marching with signs in front of Central Prison in Raleigh & prisoners on the inside went on a 3 day hunger strike and refused to lock down at the facility.
On 9 May 2020 many protests broke out at the Neuse Prison inside and outside demanding N.C. prisoners’ human rights.
On 10 May 2020 women prisoners at NCCIW also protested on the inside while dozens of cars blared their horns outside of the prison in solidarity and marched in front of the prison until local police from two agencies were dispersed to break the crowd up.
Prisoners are tired of being restricted from writing to other prisoners of the opposite sex. Tired of paying $10.00 for prison rule violations, restrictions on who can send us money, life sentences and all the b.s. time we are being sentenced.
We’ve been here, at least some of us. Our last issue of ULK was ULK 69, which came out in October 2019. In that issue we announced a planned pause to launch a new newsletter in January. Those plans fell apart in December when most of those comrades left the project.
Wait, i’m new, i never even got ULK 69
If you wrote us for the first time after we mailed out ULK 69 you should have got some kind of response from us. Many new subscribers were only sent a back issue of ULK and no further info. This issue (70) should get everyone up to speed. However, due to the shelter-in-place orders and our limited resources we are not doing a mailing to our full subscriber list. Only those who write in after this issue is released will be sent a copy.
How are you doing?
We’re doing as good as we can. The setbacks in December were challenging. But those of us who remain are healthy so far, and are not facing any immediate setbacks from the pandemic. In fact, we saw a 42% increase in data pulled from our website in April, which we imagine is related to people sheltering in place to avoid COVID-19.
What have you been up to?
We’ve actually done a lot in 2020. Before the comrades left this winter we had spent a lot of time working with our partners in RAIM to develop plans for the newsletter, as well as developing our ideological unity around Maoism. Besides some edits to our definition of Maoism, we put out an extensive response to the book Continuity and Rupture, which goes through the history of Maoism here in occupied Turtle Island and relates it to the International Communist Movement (ICM). We could not fit that essay in this issue of ULK, but if you are interested please write in to request a copy. You can also get a copy of the book itself from us for $8 (stamps or ask us for info on how to pay by check) or work trade. It is a good explanation of some of the concepts behind Maoism and where it comes from. However, our essay addresses some serious disagreements with the historical facts and some of the author’s political line. We recommend it to all who are studying Maoism.
Since the last ULK we’ve focused much energy outside of prisons, to invest in building a more resilient movement on the streets. Of note, we launched a new online platform that has been in the work for years, which has allowed us to build with a number of new comrades. We released plans for the launch of Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS), a mass organization for people on the outside to support USW and MIM(Prisons) work. Our subscribers can now link up their outside contacts with AIPS to make direct contributions to Maoist prisoner support in the United $tates. Just have your people get in touch with us via our website www.prisoncensorship.info/contact .
We took the opportunity of the intro study group coordinator leaving to revamp the entire course, both the study questions as well as the format. This new format allows people to complete the course at their own pace, rather than having to wait for the next course to start, or for others to answer. We hope this means our subscribers will be able to develop their political consciousness more rapidly and with sustained interest. The new format is already showing good results in the responses we have seen.
The introductory study course has been open to prisoners for many years, and hundreds of people have participated over that time. In 2020, we started offering our intro study course online for the first time. We are linking AIPS comrades to our intro study group participants inside, to help build bridges between inside and outside, and to help everyone develop their political consciousness more deeply.
Despite the pause in ULK, we have sent in 100s of pieces of literature each month through our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program.
Are all your programs still running?
No, we simply cannot do what we were doing until we can get more comrade time dedicated to those tasks. This will happen by training new people and/or having others provide the money we need to keep operating so existing comrades have more time to put in.
Some tasks we cannot sustain at this time are producing Spanish-language content and coordinating the Prisoners’ Legal Clinic. Our capacity to appeal censorship on behalf of MIM Distributors will be even more focused on instances that are being actively fought by our subscribers. We will still send subscribers Spanish language materials that are already produced, as well as legal guides available through our Free Books program.
But ULK is back?
We’re not sure yet. Our plan A was to launch a new newsletter, in partnership with other cells/groups, uniting on MIM’s 3 cardinal principals (see MIM(Prisons) points 4-6). This newsletter would have more than tripled our distribution, with most copies being distributed outside of prisons. We still think we need such a newsletter to unite a broader Maoist Internationalist Movement. But until people step up with the effort, money and political line to do this project, this plan is on hold.
Plan B is to recontinue Under Lock & Key, to serve as the voice of the anti-imperialist prisoner movement led by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism through MIM(Prisons)’s role as editor. ULK came out every other month and was free to all prisoners of the United $nakes who wrote us every 6 months to stay on the mailing list. Whether we can return to that model is still being considered.
Plan C would be doing something less regular, with less content and/or more restricted distribution, which is effectively what we are doing with ULK 70. Before we make any concrete decisions, we decided to put out ULK 70 as a first step in sorting out our longer-term plan. We wanted to send our readers an update, including all of the indepth content included in this issue. We wanted to let people know we’re still here and still serious. And we wanted to make one more call for support. How we proceed will depend on the response from our subscribers, as well as potential contributors outside. And, like the rest of the world, we are not sure what will be the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
How can i support the newsletter?
In order to consistently produce new issues of Under Lock & Key, we must fill the gap in resources we had before we stopped. This gap is in both comrade time and money. One of our biggest successes in the last couple months has been the launch of the online platform, and the streamlining of the process of getting prisoner writings typed and published on our website. Helping out with typing, proof-reading, formatting and even writing articles for ULK is one way to help. Providing consistent funding is another. Comrades in prison, perhaps you can help recruit people to do both. You don’t have to contribute a lot, but we do need supporters who can contribute consistently, that we can rely on to keep the newsletter going.
To reignite Plan A we need to develop cells within MIM and mass organizations that are doing work on the ground that produce diverse content for such a newsletter, an outlet for distributing it, and funding.
Currently, Plan C might include publishing a newsletter whenever we can. This model has the benefit of responding to reader support; as support goes up, the newsletter becomes more regular. However, we think consistency is important up front, especially if we are to be effective at keeping our imprisoned subscribers informed in a relatively timely manner, as we must do to sustain our movement.
Therefore, we are asking for everyone’s support in making ULK a regular newsletter once again, to play its unique role of publicizing and supporting anti-imperialist organizing in the dungeons of the belly of the beast! For people inside, write to your people outside and encourage them to get involved. For people outside, contact us with a pledge of how much you can contribute every 2 months, in work and/or funding.
In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began considering calls for aid to Third World countries in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.(1) Since then, finance capital flows have begun moving out of the Third World and back into the United $tates, resulting in currencies in those countries losing their value. This is making it impossible for these countries to pay off their existing debt burdens, as well as to fund much-needed relief for their people during this crisis.
In our previous article we mentioned the possibility of the IMF issuing Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) which would allow all countries to access funds, via the United Nations, without accruing additional debt and interest. We have also been echoing the call for complete debt forgiveness, or jubilee, for the poorest nations of the world.
In place of these measures, the United $tates has set up a system where countries can apply for dollars in exchange for local currency from the U.$. Federal Reserve Board. This allows the United $tates to decide who gets funding. Due to their control of the IMF, the Amerikans have already blocked funding to Venezuela to combat the pandemic.(2)
The money being offered from the the Fed will also be given as loans, with interest.(2) Already, the most exploited countries of the world cannot afford to pay off existing loans. Many countries are spending more on debt payments than healthcare during the pandemic.(1) In addition, these loans, unlike the proposed SDRs, will have conditions that give the Amerikans control over the path of development these countries take in the future.
The exiting of finance capital from the Third World will have the effect of passing the impacts of the economic crisis disproportionately on to those countries. Meanwhile, the United $tates is offering to send dollars back to put these countries further into debt and ratchet up further policy control over their economies. While the United $tates is currently leading the world in deaths due to the novel coronavirus, the Third World nations are likely destined to see much more dire death and suffering without debt forgiveness, unconditional aid, and the lifting of sanctions and embargoes by the imperialists.
In times of capitalist expansion, exporting finance capital works to transfer wealth from the Third World periphery to the First World nations. Now that the economy is quickly contracting, the methods above show how pulling finance capital out of the periphery also transfers wealth to the First World nations. Ultimately, national liberation struggles are necessary to free the peripheral countries from the economic system of imperialism that uses them as a source of wealth at the expense of much humyn suffering.
After reading the article “34 years too long: The case of Political Prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur” in the San Francisco Bayview newspaper, Feb. 2020 issue, plus watching the news on the current events on the coronavirus epidemic, I can’t help but laugh and wonder; Is this pay back for locking up and killing our New Afrikan healers? As a young New Afrikan who grew up listening to and admiring the late Tupac Shakur, knowing that Pac came from a revolutionary background, when given a chance to study Dr. Mutulu Shakur deeper, I took it and was astonished that he co-founded the BAAANA (Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America).
It pisses me off how Dr. Mutulu was framed and is still locked up after serving his 30-year sentence unrightfully. Just as much as the killing of Dr. Sebz, America doesn’t want to heal individuals not without capitalizing on it. Now we’re in a period where all the natural healers are needed, and this epidemic of the coronavirus has individuals in the multitudes fearing for their lives. Due to the Surgeon General claiming there’s no cure and advise individuals to self-quarantine if they have symptoms that coincides with COVID-19. But where’s the natural healers now? In prison cells or 6 feet under the ground. For every action there’s a consequence and here’s the Imperialistic-Capitalistic world consequence for murdering and imprisoning our Brothers and Sisters.
I knowledge that if the United $tates didn’t do the evil wrong doings to the New Afrikan community and strayed away from the natural way of life, as a whole we would be better off like the majority of the continent of Afrika. Now Amerikkka is going into her rapist tool box and do what it does best, which is blood suck whoever has the cure dry then dispose of the evidence.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammed wrote about the Fall of Amerikkka and said the worst is yet to come. How shit is looking now, the worst is just beginning to happen to Amerikkka the great. As the New Afrikan nation is in motion to free our Brothers and Sisters from the belly of the dying beast. Our next move is in the separation of this failing nation and watch the fireworks. Amerikkka is in a desperate need for a healer, or a savior which will only come from US. Who are the Fathers and Mothers of civilization, Supreme beings.
FREE DR. MUTULU SHAKUR!!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We also foresee challenging times for the United Snakes empire coming out of th coronavirus crisis. This creates opportunities for real change, and real change of the economic system will come when oppressed nations begin delinking from the imperialist system as this comrade says.
We must caution against taking our critique of the imperialists too far into pseudo-science. There are many promoting “all natural” cures to coronavirus to make a quick buck these days. It’s not just the U.$. President pedaling dangerous unproven solutions. Certainly, if soldiers like Mutulu Shakur were not targeted by the state, New Afrikans and the world would be better off. And by seeing through Shakur’s vision of a socialist future, we will be much better prepared to handle pandemics in the future, by putting the people before profits.
10 April 2020 – Filing my April Report from the California Medical Facility (CMF) at Vacaville, California.
This is a hospital, we are all here because we are high risk medical and most of us are 55+ years of age if not older. And those of us with Obstructive Sleep Apnea suffer from a life-threatening condition for which we require the use of a CPAP/BiPAP breathing machine to allow us to keep breathing as we sleep. Today the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), using Gastapo tactics, has come in and confiscated our DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment). Thereby placing all our lives at risk under the color of law.
I requested C.O. Gorbe, our dorm officer who since his assignment to our dorm has made a hostile environment, to make a copy of my health care 602 [grievance form] with supporting documents attached, as is my right before I submitted it. I was denied this request and for this reason I submitted this health care 602 attached to a CDCR 22 form with the CDCR 602 H.C. Grievance. And I have been successful in encouraging others to follow suite and file appeals.
My people have been calling the facility and they are denying these as allegations, refusing to acknowledge to our loved ones this even happened. And telling us this is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Which makes NO sense. I am not infected and their reporting no cases here at CMF. Yet they are placing our lives at risk of our OSA.
I’m sure this is going on at other facilities within CDCR and I encourage all our brothers and sisters to also file paperwork together we can make a difference!
I have wrote similar letters to: - The Prison Law Office - Office of Internal Affairs CDCR - Office of the Inspector General - U.S. Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division - CDCR, office of the Ombudsman - Rosen Bien Galvan and Grunfeld UP attorney at Law - Cal-vets
I would like to respectfully request copies of the grievance petition forms, and also suggest all our effected brothers and sisters to also file and make this a real campaign. And contact your loved ones beyond the walls to call in and make the system aware that people outside are aware of their actions. Together let’s hold them accountable for their actions!
Monday 11 May 2020
CALL: (707) 448-6841
Suggested message: “I am calling on behalf of prisoners who have had their Durable Medical Equipment taken away during the COVID-19 pandemic. These machines help people with life-threatening conditions. I am requesting that prisoners at California Medical Facility be given access to these machines immediately. Can you tell me why these machines were taken away and when we can expect them to be returned?”
MIM(Prisons) adds: As this comrade states ey does not have symptoms of COVID-19. While there are reports online that CPAP machines could spread COVID-19, these patients should be tested for the virus if that is the concern. The fact that COVID-19 is becoming so widespread in prisons is a complete failure of the staff to protect prisoners. With proper practices, prisoners likely would not even be exposed to the virus – in many ways, imprisonment is the epitome of “shelter in place..” Prisoners with existing health conditions need not be put under additional threats to their health.
As you know, March 2020 TDCJ has made changes. No more greeting cards are allowed in, only ten photos at a time and more little changes, such as the only ones allowed to send money or ecom packages must be on your phone or visitation list.
They are trying to slow the drug market down. However no changes for good time work time or payment for our labor. Still slaves to the system imagine that. Anyway the study group I am working on hasn’t grown. We are three strong. It’s a start! We decided to post “Did you know”’s and “Just think about it” notes to get the attention of people. A lot of people are still stuck on K-2 and other drugs.
I deeply feel this is what they want to keep us from thinking, but never will I give up hope or educating men. We have a major fight on our hands and the battle is far from won. Not only are we fighting the oppressors but we must educate the masses. I read and studied a lot of material I still haven’t come to the understanding on how to influence people of the knowledge or political education or even a common platform that will help the Texas prison system. We all have been pushing peace so that’s a start.
We just now need to get rid of the Meth and K-2! Our unit just came off lockdown they had a surprise unit sweep, getting rid of a lot of K-2 and Meth only to see the prison block flooded again with that shit. Over 50 cell phones were found and pounds of K-2. No big changes cause it’s still here it seems like even more though. In other words they took pictures then put it right back on the streets.
MIM(Prisons) adds: In our survey on drugs in prisons conducted in 2017, 39% of respondents said staff brought in most drugs, and 78% mentioned staff as part of the problem.(1) From the ghettos of New York to the Iran-Contra scandal, drugs and drug money have been important tools of the oppressor in its war on the oppressed.
As this comrade points out, recent changes in mail polices to address drugs in prison are a joke, and only serve to limit support and education for prisoners. The results only reinforce the fact that drugs are being brought in by staff. Meanwhile, the lack of connection to family, community and organizations that are addressing social ills is counter to any goals related to rehabilitation.
This comrade is on the right track. Providing connection, meaning and hope through independent institutions like their study group is the best counter measure we currently have to the reactionary effects of drugs on the people. We want to hear more about the “Did you know” fliers. What topics and slogans are working to reach the masses that we could share with others? Let us know.